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Monday, 03 August 2015 12:34

Inspired by charity

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Sr Anne Turner rscAs a child, Sister Anne Turner rsc was wary at first of nuns - the women in “unfamiliar clothing” and their “uncompromising commitment to teaching" yet they inspired her towards a journey of vocation and mission. 

While she had two aunts who were nuns in Ireland, a young Anne Turner had little contact with religious sisters until her primary school years.

Somewhat wary at first of these women in “unfamiliar clothing” and their “uncompromising commitment to teaching,” she soon developed a deep respect and gratitude for them.

“I gradually became accustomed to their tireless industry and discovered that I thoroughly enjoyed learning and looked forward to going to school each day,” Sr Anne remembered.

Sr Anne’s own mother was also a great spiritual inspiration to her.

“Although we did not discuss religion or say prayers at home, my mother was a very spiritual women who took us to Mass each Sunday,” she said.

“Her spirituality always impressed me, although I was too young to really understand.”

When a teenage Anne attended St Joseph’s College in Hobart, she first came in contact with the Pioneer Sisters of Charity who also left an impression on her that would last into her adult years.

“As I grew older I was inspired by these charitable, prayerful women,” Sr Anne said.

While she had always planned to go to university, something deep inside stopped her when the time came to sign the admission papers.

“I suddenly realised that I wanted to be like these inspiring women, to teach and to help young people in the way the nuns had helped me,” Sr Anne said.

After attending teacher’s college in Victoria, a 20-year old Anne entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of Charity.

Throughout the years Sr Anne has taught at schools throughout Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Today she still keeps connected to education, volunteering two days a week at Mackillop College in Mornington of which she was a foundation staff member.

And it is this connection with students that Sr Anne feels is a strong part of the Sisters of Charity charism and one of the most inspiring parts of her vocation.

“Our special charism is the service of the poor and needy, and people just need someone to help and turn on that little light,” she said.

“It’s what I enjoyed most and still do, the way students thinking they had nothing to contribute, suddenly realise they have found their something.

“I never tire of seeing that sheer joy and the blossoming that takes place after that.”

While the Sisters of Charity in Tasmania once numbered around 230, Sr Anne who soon turns 77, is now the only remaining sister in the State.

“I go back a lot to meetings and gatherings whenever I can to catch up with the other sisters,” she said.

“But I am happy to be here because it is part of my soul.”

This article was first published in Catholic Standard, the official newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Hobart.

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